Sentenced To Community Service

In January 2018, we moved into a very small rural community. Within the city limits are about forty-five houses, some of which are empty. The transition from a population of 50,000 to a population of 150 was easy. The hubs and I fit right in. Our new neighbors, became new friends in a matter of weeks.

As we were getting to know our newly adopted city, we became involved in community activities. The husband got the write-in vote for city councilman.(yes, we have a council),

and I offered to volunteer my pest control skills to combat a vole issue at the sewer ponds and lift stations.

We weren’t trying to be the Mayor’s Pet, we just felt the need to be an active part of our community.

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I gathered old broken rodent bait stations from customers that weren’t good enough to pass a third party audit, and brought them home. I proceeded to drill holes in them, and attach zip ties to hold the hinge part of the lid back together. Fence wire replaced the locking mechanism. These are going inside of a locked fence with barbed wire on top, and only a few people have a key. They will work just fine.

Twelve bait stations were placed around the fence line of the water treatment ponds, and I mapped it out. (with the fitness tracker..see a previous post) I added some soft pack bait for those critters with old teeth, and a block bait for those that are newly teething.

I know, you are thinking about the 100 feet rule on rodenticide. Well, here’s my logic – that fence is NEVER gonna move. It HAS to stay put. That’s part of the rules and regulations for the Environmental Protection Agency. So, I am within my 100 feet of the man made structure criteria. I added large snap traps in every other station, and set two cage traps with cat food and deer corn.

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Curious what I might catch, I checked these bait station placements three times in the first week. There was a lot of feeding, but no rodent of any kind. The second week, I got lucky. Maybe not so much luck, but waiting on the rodents getting used to something new. This little guy wasn’t so fortunate:

After several monthly visits, checking the bait stations multiple times per week, I thinned out the vole population. We – I mean the city maintenance guy – filled in all the burrows we could find. To date: I have removed four raccoons, and three opossums from the facility. There are turtles swimming in the sewer muck, and this reptile made its way into my trap:

Now I am just trying to keep the field mice under control. Ten months later, the feeding is seasonal. No new vole burrows. No large rodents tearing up my bait stations. The city council is grateful. Community service serves us all. It does a soul good to be involved. This is MY community.

🥾🦺🥽🧤🧢GIRL TALK FEATURE

Ashley Deatherage – Technician – Harvest Valley Pest Control, Wenatchee, WA

There Will Be Some Fallout

“I will be happy to come remedy your insect issues, but here is your warning….. I am not going to politely shoo them outside. There will be bodies: some laying dead on your kitchen floor, some running for a safe place, and some you will never see. One thing is certain – you WILL notice insects, bugs, and critters, that you never knew you had.”

Does this conversation sound familiar? Anyone? (Bueller? Bueller?) Oh, never mind.

Homemade fungus gnat trap w/ cut up sticky notes. Remember – they like yellow

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After I have done a pesticide application, these are my words to the client. “There is gonna be some fallout. Give this residual spray some time to dry. About 30 minutes. You should be good to go. When you see the dead insects, sweep them up or vacuum. Empty the dustpan and the vacuum in the trash OUTSIDE. You don’t want those eggs or larva in reproducing your kitchen trash can.”

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(Look on the customer’s face) Because they never thought of that

(Look on my face) Because I just gave them new found knowledge

Call me if you need anything else. Have a great week.

🥾🥽🧢🦺 🧤GIRL TALK FEATURE

🐞Bryte Goodell – Co-Owner – Ecoforce Bedbug Services, Manufacturer of Ecoforce Heat Systems for bed bugs, Phoenix, Arizona🔥

Man! I Feel Like A Woman

I am not trying to exclude the men with this post, but Ladies, this one’s for you. I do hope the men who follow my blog posts will continue to read until the end.

Those of you who have been reading my blog posts, have learned a bit about me. This time, I am going to highlight some other ladies who are awesome additions to the pest control industry. I am adding GIRL TALK FEATURE to the end of my posts.

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About 18 months ago, I was scrolling through Facebook groups for pest control information. I saw all of the typical “Buy Our Pest Control Products”, “Our Company Is The Best At Getting Rid of Mice”, “Talk About All Things Bug”, and so on. THEN, I found one that looked different.

This group caught my eye because of the BIG pink logo. (I’m a breast cancer survivor, so pink is kind of my color) I clicked on the membership section. Two women were the administrators. The description said only pest control ladies were allowed to be in the group. I was intrigued, and filled out the questionnaire.

Are you a woman in pest control? YES. How long have you been in the industry? SINCE 2008. What is your role? (At the time)- TECH-now I’m an OWNER.

🌹🌸💐🌷🌺🥀

In my experience, when putting a lot of women together, things can get a bit catty, somewhat judgmental, and at times, condescending. I hit that JOIN button, and waited…… In less than an hour, I was the newest member of Women In Pest Control.

As the days passed, I read the posts. There were questions on pest identification – and answers. There were funny memes about mice and cockroaches. There were pictures of the ladies in their pest control uniforms, both fresh from the house AND after a day’s work.

Danielle Carey – Owner/Operator Carey Pest Management – Moreno Valley, California

There was information about starting an annual conference just for the women. There was a phone and address list of ladies willing to mentor and coach, and to pass clients in areas that another one didn’t service.

Nanette Rota – Regional Account Manager – Terminix – Knightdale, North Carolina

What I DIDN’T see in those posts – not one single degrading, condescending, “I’m better than you” remark. Not about each other. Not about any customers. Not about any current or former employers. Every woman was beaming, and proud to be a pest control professional, helping neighbors, family, and friends… and each other.

Tabitha Linton – Owner -Desert Squad Pest & Wildlife – Las Vegas, NV

Once I started participating in the chats, I could tell this was MY group. I always had a tough time adjusting my conversations with the men in pest control, but these women understood the unique challenges we were facing. I became comfortable talking about anything… AND I MEAN EVERYTHING. Girl talk that the men mostly DON’T want to know anything about. I won’t go into that.

Conversations included: Finding the right uniform fit – professional, but not slouchy or tight. Finding a service container for checking rodent boxes that wasn’t too bulky or heavy. One post made it known that cute work boots were hard to find, but a couple of women showed off these:

In August 2019, I attended the Women In Pest Control 1st annual conference. More than 100 women made that inaugural trip to Austin, Texas. This event was designed to give women the freedom to have open, honest conversations, get CEUs, and do meet and greets – without judgement. When I walked into that room, I felt like I had known all of those women as friends for most of my life.

During the holiday season, one of our ladies asked the group to send Christmas cards to one of her clients. Without hesitation, it was done. That’s what I want to be a part of. Community. Compassion. Caring. Empathy.

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Pest control has been a “boy’s club” for a long time. More women are coming on scene and taking this industry by storm. As of this post, more than 800 women have come together in this awesome Facebook group – Women In Pest Control – to support each other. I have learned SO much about other aspects of the pest control industry. This group has given me the confidence I was lacking. Now, I own a pest control business.

Bobbie Terry and Lisa Meyers Botts – Thank you for bringing us all together in such a fun, informative, easy going, educational atmosphere. Any hesitation I had about being part of a women’s group is long gone.

There are some knowledgeable women in this group. I offered to do a business card swap so I can feature one or two at the end of every blog post from now on. Stay tuned…

I Think I ACE’d The Lottery

Have you ever won the lottery? I’m not talking about small potatoes money on a scratch card. I’m asking…. the REALLY big one? I haven’t either. Well, maybe not in the sense that I received actual money. I did have, what I could guess is, that same type of endorphins running through me when I got a passing score on my Associate Certified Entomologist exam.

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Some former managers and a couple of Board Certified Entomologists that I know asked me several times, “Why haven’t you gotten your A.C.E.?” I don’t know. I guess I was scared to look like a fool if I failed. It took a few inquiries from those respected folks to make me agree to at least try.

I was trying to figure out when I would have time to study. The recommended investment is 40 hours. That’s an entire work week!

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Credit: John C. Maxwell

I decided in February 2018 that I was going to do this. I ordered the study guides, attached two Letters of Reference, made copies of my certified applicator information, paid the fees, and signed the Code Of Ethics.

In less than a week, I was approved to test. My chosen proctor got confirmation of my intentions, and was excited FOR me. I still wasn’t sure. My heart started racing. My palms were clammy. A small panic attack set in. Breathe. Just breathe.

📔📕📗📘📙📖📚🖊✏️

When it was time to crack the books, I didn’t actually start my studies right away. I just half-heartedly glanced through the pictures. My first instinct was to look at all the information about stored product pests. That’s what I really know about. I thought, “I need to focus on the pests I don’t know anything about.” That was a challenge for me.

I started thinking about where I could get more information. Hhmmm? A sister company does that every day. So, I borrowed some training manuals for ants and termites. For me, this was like reading a foreign language, but I knew I had to gain this knowledge.

I read each section and answered the review quizzes. I failed miserably, but I was determined to keep trying. It’s my habit to WAY overthink things, so I backed off a little to gain some perspective. I didn’t need to know every single little detail. Habits, habitats, identification information should be sufficient. After a few days thumbing through the termite training, I returned it to the manager who had reluctantly loaned it to me.

🐛🐞🕷🦟🦗🐜🐝

Service work had to get done, and it was the busiest time of year for all things “bug”. Residual sprays, rodent control, fumigation work, and my managerial duties had to be completed. That study guide lay on my coffee table for almost 5 months. Time was running out to test before my one year deadline of applying.

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I was scheduled to test on a Friday. I hustled to get my daily schedule completed by Wednesday. I left the service work in the charge of my employee, and took Thursday off to study. I spent all day sitting at my kitchen table reading and highlighting words, phrases, and chemical information, that I thought I should know. Two words that are memorable – fly spit. Good thing I’d already had lunch.

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On Friday, September 14, 2018, I met with Jerry Heath, my proctor, for a quick review. We had lunch and good conversation. I was getting really nervous. This is it, I thought, as I drove to the testing location.

After logging into the Entomological Society Association testing site, panic set in. Three hours, I had 3 hours, to complete testing. Questions number one and number two were familiar. I was breathing a little easier. My proctor was looking over my shoulder, taking notes. He had helped write some of the questions.

Question by question, section by section, I muddled through. I don’t remember what the last question in that nerve racking exam was, and I don’t care. I remember not being able to breathe. Here goes nothing……as I hit the SUBMIT button.

My favorite “lottery ticket”

For the next half hour, I couldn’t tell you what was said, except one sentence: You don’t know a damn thing about ants or termites. I had my picture taken for the company newsletter and was made me a member of the company’s 🎀BowTie Society, a way to acknowledge the group of individuals who have passed their A.C.E.

❤️ A few weeks after testing, I received my certificate in the mail. I was pleasantly surprised at the official signature. It was one of the B.C.E.’s who had told me I would be successful. I had no idea Chelle Hartzer was one of the certification members.❤️

It’s been two years, and I am renewing for the first time. This is a certification I will always treasure.

A Clean Joke

I do love a warehouse. I enjoy getting to see all the things stored in there. Some have household goods. Some have my favorite soda and bottled water. Some have food and food product ingredients. Some have pet food. Then there’s that oddball… not related to anything warehouse like…. When the owner of the warehousing is using some non-paid space as a personal garage.

🚤🚲🏍🛺

A warehouse that is clean, organized, and gives me an adequate sanitation line to inspect, ranks at the top of my happy list. Those that haphazardly place items in the way of my pest control devices make me want to scream.🤬

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During my first visit to a potential new warehouse customer, I was very overwhelmed by how immaculately clean this facility was. I made a comment to the Quality Management stating this fact. In the months following the signing of the pest service contracts, I realized that sanitation wasn’t a joke to them. In fact, it was the very premise of their operation.

The management staff and I had conversations about their sanitation program. I made many comments about how other customers could “learn a thing or two”. The staff in this warehouse made my pest control inspections and services easy. They care about the products coming in and going out, AND they inspect every truckload – in and out.

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The real stand-out story of my services with them started on a Tuesday morning. I received a phone call from the facility manager. After I answered the phone, and greeted him by his Mr. Last Name, he asked me why Indian Meal Moths would be “flying up out of the crack in the foundation?” I curled my lip sideways, “They shouldn’t be”, I said. “Well, THEY ARE! What can you do about that?”

I asked him to send me a picture, knowing that it was most likely termites. (🔔Text alert🔔) There was the photo of termite fliers. I can ID them, but I don’t know anything about their habits, habitats, how to treat them, nor am I licensed to do that.

I gave a return phone call to confirm the identification of termite activity. I offered to call the sister company, and was given the OK for that. Within a couple of days, the sister company was at work. Hard at work. I gained some knowledge on termite treatment, and quickly realized I did not want to add that licensing to my resume.

My warehouse customer was taken care of, I helped keep the revenue within the company, and I received a $50 referral bonus. Pretty great week, I’d say.

🥾🥽🧢🦺🧤GIRL TALK FEATURE – These ladies are willing and able to help pest control customers.

🌴Jen Jamieson – Mid South Termite & Pest Control – Columbia, South Carolina🌴
🦜Sara Thibadeau – Sales @ Bird Buffer – Mukilteo, Washington 🕊